Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Goes on Board (1946)
Trans. Florence Laborn

Illus. Louis S. Glanzman
Viking Press, 1957

Here’s how our heroine introduces herself: “My name’s Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Efraim’s Daughter Longstocking, daughter of Captain Edraim Longstocking, formerly the Terror of the Sea, now a cannibal King. But everybody calls me Pippi.” (10)

And, once you’ve made her acquaintance (likely at the garden gate, you’ll know nearly everything you need to know.

Unless you are more akin to Annika and Tommy, who live next door, and who, unfortunately, have a mother and a father who insist that Annika and Tommy go to bed at seven o’clock (when everybody knows that all the interesting things happen after seven o’clock).

Nonetheless, at least when it comes to Pippi, you will know that “nowhere in the world, in that town or any other, was there anyone half so strong as she was”.

In Pippi’s world, it really does seem unfortunate to have parents. She really knows how to have a good time. Tommy says, “I think more funny things will happen where Pippi is.”

One remarkable episode in this, the second in the Pippi series, is that in which she showcases her amazing strength to defend a horse being whipped mercilessly by its owner. The schoolteacher in Pippi’s village has already tried to intervene in the animal’s defense, but to no avail. “Don’t interfere with what doesn’t concern you,” said he. “Otherwise it might just happen that I’ll give you a taste of the whip too, the whole lot of you.”

To explain how Pippi intervenes would spoil the story, but here is a snippet drawn from the middle of the scene: “‘Help! Help!’ he cried, terrified. At last he landed with a thump on the road. He had lost the whip.”

But Pippi is not always a selfless rescuer. She also goes shopping, writes a letter, attends a picnic, picks wild strawberries, and visits the fair.

I didn’t read the later Pippi books as a girl (and, ironically, the first Pippi Longstocking wasn’t a book that I regularly reread then either) but returning to them as an adult, I’d still happily share Villa Villekulla, Mr. Nilsson the monkey, and the horse who lives on the porch, and Pippi, too, of course.

What books did you NOT read as a young reader that you now wish you had discovered sooner?